• Published 28th Jun 2012
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A New Hero - Alex The Lone Wolf

What if there was another pony who joined the pony gang? (Look at longer description...)

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Canterlot Boutique

I took a minute or two in picking out a bouquet from a flower shop in Canterlot. I was sure that the pony receiving this bouquet wouldn't care much about the look of it but rather care about receiving the arrangement in the first place.

This arrangement of flowers wasn't for Fluttershy this time though…

Rarity had recently just opened her new shop here at Canterlot. It had been her dream ever since she was a filly, but I remember how much she talked about it ever since I met her. Now that she's finally done it, I had to do so much more than just show up and support her.

As I walked out of the shop and headed in the direction of the grand opening of Canterlot's greatest and newest boutique, I began to think about the star of the moment.

I would be lying if I said I never felt bad about Rarity, especially in key moments. I'm talking about her feelings for me…and how they'll have to stay in a standstill, considering my relationship with Fluttershy. To be entirely honest, I wish there was some way to satisfy her feelings. Just thinking about how hard she works while having to deal with an unrequited love bothered me. It made me feel guilty, because I was the one she chose to pursue.

And you can't just get over someone so quickly or easily, especially if you're going to be with them for a long time. I can't imagine how she's been able to deal with this and at the same time follow her dreams closely. Despite having high standards when it comes to food, fashion, and the like, she really is a strong pony.

I stopped and observed the arrangement of flowers for a moment. Is it a good idea to be giving these to here? Could it possibly remind of her feelings, considering she's not thinking about them at the moment?

I shook my head. I really want to give these to her. I really do.

I sighed heavily.

I know she would appreciate these… I want her to know that I appreciate every little thing about her. About how she always helps not only me but all her friends. And I want her to know how proud I am of her for having worked so hard to achieve today's result.

Remembering the time, I had to shake off the clouded thoughts and worries in my mind if I wanted to get these flowers to Rarity on time.

By the time I got to the boutique, there had already been a huge crowd at the front, causing me to sigh in slight frustration. I'm not going to be able to get through everyone here unless I'm willing to become a public menace. I decided that I would wait until the doors opened. That still won't stop it from being a nice surprise.

As soon as I saw those doors open, I expected to see Rarity, and I did for a second. However, another pony I did not recognize took the stage, and she exclaimed her welcome out to everypony gathered here.

"Welcome to the grand opening of Canterlot Carousel!" She ensued cheers from the gatherers.

After everypony rushed in, but immediately slowed down to a walk inside, I followed behind, keeping my space from the others so they wouldn't mess with the flowers. The same pony that announced the welcome to everypony greeted me inside, but as soon as she noticed the wings and horn, she reacted differently.

"Oh! You must be the Prince! Your friends have been expecting your arrival. I'm Sassy Saddles. Pleased to meet you!" She held out her hoof so we could formally greet each other.

"Call me Alex." I accepted her hoof and shook with a friendly smile. "Do you mind telling me where Rarity and the others are?"

"Right over there!" She pointed out the group of mares who had seemed to be already looking our way. "I'd love to stay and chat, but I'm afraid I must continue welcoming our guests."

Sassy Saddles… She must be working for Rarity.

As I approached the others, I noticed most of them appeared to look bothered for some strange reason. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting when I'd arrive…but it didn't stop me from approaching Rarity with her congratulatory gift either.

"Congratulations, Rarity." I commended with warm grin and presented the flowers towards her.

"Oh! A-are these for me?" She stood still, stunned by the sight of the flowers.

"Of course. I just thought I'd get you something nice to show you how pr—"

"Why, they're marvelous darling! Thank you!" Holding the bouquet for her boutique aside with her magic, she threw her hooves around me in ecstatic joy. Whatever that seemed to have been bothering her before now disappeared. As I endured Rarity's constricted yet ladylike embrace, I notice Twilight giving me some kind of a smug yet joyous smirk.

"Rarity, are you ready to reveal the collection?" We heard behind us, which caused Rarity to let go and enthusiastically respond.

"Yes! Yes, I am!" She turned towards Fluttershy behind her. "Fluttershy, dear, could you help Twilight get ready?"

"Oh, certainly." She accepted, taking Twilight to another room.

"What's Twilight doing?" I asked, seeing as I must have missed something while I had been out getting the bouquet.

"Presenting my very own 'Reign in Stain', of course! It is a dress inspired by the window in Canterlot Castle commemorating her very coronation!" Rarity looked like she could go on for the entire day, but she instantly remembered her potential customers waiting for her to reveal her showcase. "If you please excuse, I must dazzle my audience. Hold these, please?" She tilted her head as she fluttered her eyelashes at me, holding the flowers in front of me.

Working her charm, even for me.

"Of course, m'lady." I lightheartedly joked and took a hold of the flowers.

"Fillies and gentlecolts! I am designer and couturier Rarity, I'd like to welcome you to the grand opening of Canterlot Carousel, and I'm thrilled that you are here to see my newest collection inspired by this regal city!" She unveiled a curtain, revealing a fresh innovative line of signature dresses.

As every one of them either took pictures or simply voiced their awe at the sight of her dresses, I simply clapped. I decided I would go find a vase and water so I'd have somewhere to place the flowers in while Rarity had her moment.

Still having been unfamiliar with the layout of the building, I opened the first door I came across to find a rather unexpected sight. It appeared Fluttershy was just finishing up getting the dress Rarity had prepared on Twilight.

"Need a hoof…?" I offered anyway.

"Actually…" Fluttershy began. "Could you come here and hold this part while I pull the rest of the dress down?"

She directed my attention over to the portion of the dress being held by Twilight's chest. It seemed she wanted to stretch out the rest of the dress so the ends would meet with the floor, but I would play the part of holding the front of the dress towards Twilight's chest so it wouldn't be dragged down as well.

I placed my hooves around her upper body, and it almost made us look as if we were getting ready to dance. I found it funny, but it was a little…unusual as well, seeing as we pretty much just stared at each other the entire time while Fluttershy was finishing up.

"So…" Twilight emphasized, almost as if she was playfully trying to make things awkward between us. "Those flowers you got for Rarity were really a nice thought." She noticed the flowers I held aside with magic.

"I was trying to look for some water and something to hold them, but I end up coming across you two." I mentioned.

I wasn't sure if Twilight didn't know what to say afterwards, but she chose to not respond with words. She only offered a somewhat understanding look with a soft smile before Fluttershy announced that she had finished.

"Okay! That about does it. Let's get you outside!"

I let go of Twilight and watched her walk out, joining her shortly afterwards. As much as I wanted to get the flowers a base of water, I decided I couldn't miss Twilight's debut as she gracefully walked down the stairs in Rarity's premiere dress.

"Fillies and gentlecolts, I, Sassy Saddles, am pleased to introduce the grand finale of the grand opening of Rarity's Royal Regalia – the 'Princess Dress'!" We heard the announcement protruded from the first floor.

It didn't sit right as soon as I heard it, but I couldn't think too much about it as it had been Twilight's cue to show off said dress. As soon as the spotlight was on her, there was a look of bashfulness yet modesty as she waved off to the crowd looking up to her. It was clearly audible that she received nothing but praise and cheer. She then stepped towards the end of the steps to meet with the others. At that time, Sassy Saddles continued speaking.

"Everypony, please follow me and you can all place your orders for the Princess Dress!" Holding a couple of clipboards, she entered the main counter, immediately taking orders by the many ponies surrounding her in excitement.

The other girls, including Fluttershy and Twilight, joined Rarity to congratulate her.

"Rarity's Royal Regalia is amazing! And everypony seemed to love the Princess Dress!" Twilight expressed.

"You bet your saddle they did." Sassy Saddles didn't take long to join in with a huge stack of papers. "Rarity now has one hundred orders for her signature gown!"

Rarity stammered a bit when her eyes laid at the proof right before her. "One hundred orders?! All at one time?!"

"According to my pattern, the next piece is The Success of the Signature Dress, so I do not see the problem!" I had to admit she responded a bit obliviously. I didn't think she was going to be making the dresses, was she?

This seemed to cause some awkwardness with the other girls that were present watching, so they apparently decided to distract themselves by taking part with the refreshment table.

Rarity cleared her throat…a bit aggressively. "First of all, Sassy Saddles, I would have appreciated getting to name the final gown from my collection myself."

I now began to witness this sort of interior tension that I apparently didn't notice before.

Beginning with a short laugh, Sassy Saddles raised her defensive stance on the matter. "My research shows that your 'Reign in Stain' name was a play on words that was both very confusing and quite unappealing."

Rarity obviously forced her own temper to not get out of hoof, reacting with a rather disgruntled laugh. "While I see your point, we should have discussed it prior to the grand opening, Sassy."

"My only goal is for Canterlot Carousel to succeed. That's why I changed the name, and that is why I took all those orders for the Princess Dress." She explained her actions, seeming to look as if she felt guilty for what she did. However, the authenticity of her guilt was questionable.

"But... But receiving orders for one hundred dresses in one day, it's just too much too soon!"

Of course, I had my opinions on the matter that I felt like expressing. Opinions that mainly sided with Rarity. But I didn't feel it would be right to voice them, not during the current moment at least.

"Are you actually saying we should... cancel these orders?!"

"Wha... But... Uh, n-no, Sassy. Promises were made, and I shall sew my very best to provide each and every pony a Princess Dress full of TLC."

"Oh, thank you, Rarity, thank you!" Sassy Saddles expressed with delight as she hugged Rarity before walking away to continue on with her work.

Rarity expectedly reacted with a hefty sigh.

"Ah…" I finally spoke. "…so, this is a problem."

"Oh, no, no, no." Rarity responded, turning towards me. "I'm sure it's just a lack of communication between the two of us. I'm sure everything she's doing is solely for Canterlot Boutique's success." As expected, it sounded like she was trying to make it seem better than it actually was.

"A hundred orders, Rarity?" I reminded, drawing out the topic that needed to be discussed about right away. "Don't you remember what happened with Hoity Toity? That's way too much for you to handle at a single time."

"It's fine. I'm fine." A nervous laugh slipped through her lips. "It's all a part of the job, and no matter what happens, I must keep my promises."

"Will you at least let us help you…?" I asked, seeing how much this decision was important to her. It'd be a waste of time trying to convince her out of it somehow, especially if she stuck through.

"I appreciate the offer, Alex." She placed a hoof on my chest. "I do, but I'd rather not have the rest of you do work you're not obligated to do. If I am to be a successful business pony, I need to be able to handle my responsibilities on my own."

I couldn't say anything at that moment. Instead, I was thinking about how she should be celebrating the grand opening of her boutique, not jumping straight to work. Rarity noticed the flowers I had been keeping at bay for her and gently grabbed a hold of them.

"I am truly thankful for these, Alex. They'll inspire me to do my best." She attempted to encourage me out of my worries. I found it funny, seeing that I wasn't the pony who should be hearing motivating words.

I shook my head for a short moment. "I don't want to keep you away from doing your work then." I snatched a look at the stack of papers she'd have to work on for possibly a long time. "Let me know whenever you're finished. I'd love to take you out for drinks or dinner or something. It's the least I can do."

She managed to let out a small genuine chuckle. "You might want to watch what you say in case any pony misunderstands your intentions."

"My intentions?" I stood puzzled for a brief moment before I recalled what I said. "You know what I mean!" I assured a little embarrassingly.

Nevertheless, I was kind of relieved to see her having a laugh out of pushing my buttons.

"Thank you." She expressed with one last calm smile before she began her long trek down a mountain of orders.

Before we left, everyone didn't forget to ask if they could help with the dresses, but just like with me, she refused politely. Eventually, we were outside of her newly established boutique waving goodbye. Walking back towards the train station, I heard the girls express their worries about Rarity, making me lag behind every time. It came to the point where I came to a complete stop, and the rest of them repeated that action and looked behind with concern.

"You coming?" Twilight asked.

"Actually…" I paused midway, trying to gather my thoughts on how to convince myself with what I was about to say was really what I wanted. "I think I'm gonna stay here a bit. I know Rarity said she could handle it, but… I just want to make sure she doesn't…I don't know…fall into another one of her dramatic 'wallowing' episodes." I tried to end with a lighthearted joke in hopes to keep them from worrying for me now.

They looked at each other for a moment before Twilight turned back to me to answer. "Sure. But if anything happens, let us know. If she…you know…breaks down from all the work she has to do, we all want to be there to support her."

"Yeah, of course." I promised.

Fluttershy stopped by in front of me before they continued on.

"I know you'll be able to take care of her if she needs it. You've always been good at that." She offered with a sweet smile. After a brief kiss, she went on to join the others and we separated our ways for the day.

Since I finally had more time to go over what I had just decided, I then thought about how Rarity would react.

Would she be mad? No, I don't think so. As long as I didn't bother her while she worked, it should be fine, right? Should I find a place to stay for the night? Well, considering her boutique is a livable space, like the one she has back home, maybe she could let me stay with her. In the end, all I want to do is support her.

The bell above the door rang as I entered back in, alerting the pony working at the desk in the front. She looked up, most likely expecting it to be a customer until she saw me. Despite that, she removed herself from behind the counter and approached me.

"Prince Alex? I thought you and your friends had left back to Ponyville." Sassy Saddles questioned.

"They did, but I thought I'd stay for Rarity. I just…want to make sure she doesn't put work over sleep or anything." I explained.

"With all due respect, I'd appreciate if you leave her be to work." She stated quite frankly. "With how many orders she has, she won't have much time to spend leisurely."

"Yeah, I get that. It's just… I want to be here in case the work gets too much for her. It's hard for me to go back home when I'm worrying that Rarity might just pass out over all the work she needs to do."

"She'll be fine." Saddles assured. "If I know Rarity, she's tackled enough difficulties in her career to be able to handle this boutique just fine."

"Sassy, who is that?" I heard another voice. It seemed Rarity had tried to peek out into the lobby but her hired assistant nudged her back to working on the dresses.

I wanted to cross my hooves and let out an agitated look from behind my face, but I didn't want to get kicked out anyway, should that be deemed too offensive or something. It was Canterlot after all, and this Sassy Saddles seemed to think she was running the show instead.

"Look, I won't bother Rarity. I just want to be around just in case something happens." I confirmed my intentions.

The bell rung once again behind me, causing Sassy Saddles to look over my shoulder. "Alright, I suppose that'll be fine. However, as much as I adore you, Prince, I'm afraid I must please ask that you should not disturb Rarity while she's finishing her orders. If you have any questions or needs to be addressed, please, come talk to me. If you'd please excuse me, I must attend to these lovely mares."

She went on ahead past me to speak with said mares, allowing me to move on upstairs where I could find somewhere to think. To be honest, I really did want to speak with Rarity, at least let her know I was here, but I decided I would wait a while both for Rarity's and Sassy Saddle's sake. As I thought about the way she spoke to me, I found it hard to believe whether she really wanted what was the best for Rarity, or if she intended to use her instead.

I couldn't believe she was that bad of a pony, but at the same time, the way she handles things around here is a little…off. Maybe it's just the way she's used to.

After all, like I said, this is Canterlot.

Waiting for a chance to talk with Rarity was practically like waiting for an appointment with a doctor under a booked clinic. I didn't understand why I found myself now following under Sassy Saddle's rules when she wasn't even the one in charge. As I thought about it, I could only come to the conclusion that I was sticking to the rules for Rarity. Still, that didn't change the fact that this seemed more like Sassy Saddle's shop with Rarity being the hired work behind the scenes.

"Rarity! I'm going out for some lunch!" I heard from the bottom floor. "I'll go ahead and bring back something exquisite for you!" I saw her open the front door and walk out, leading me to sigh in relief. I didn't bother walking down the steps. Instead, I jumped off from the top of the stairs and slowed my landing slightly with the use of my wings.

I could immediately spot Rarity inside a small room that looked rather cramped from all the dress-making tools inside. She stood right near a mannequin and was focused completely on her work, so there was no way she'd notice me unless I made some kind of sound.

I knocked lightly on her open door.

"Yes?" Rarity returned but kept her eyes glued to her work.

"Hey, Rarity." I answered, causing her to quickly pause for a moment before she looked over her mannequin to see me.

"Alex?! I-I thought you had gone back to Ponyville!"

"I thought I should stick around here for a bit…" I stepped in and looked around the room casually. Eventually, my sights came across a vase with a specific arrangement of flowers living inside. "Oh, hey. I see you managed to get them in water."

"Yes, of course." She replied. "They're just so beautiful. I'd like them to last as long as they can. After all, they've been one of the most influential things on my mind that have kept me going on with these one hundred orders…of the same dress."

I wanted to dive into the topic with her, but I wasn't sure how to start it. At one point, I just decided to go with the first question that popped in my mind.

"This isn't as you thought it would be, is it?"

"H-huh?" I assumed that question caught her off-guard after seeing her slightly staggered reaction. "What do you mean?"

"Well, don't take this wrong way, Rarity, but look at you. I'd think you'd be in here humming or singing your heart out as you worked on the dresses you designed while standing inside of the boutique you've always wanted in Canterlot. But…you don't look like you have that same sparkle in your eyes like you do at Ponyville."

"Oh, that? I'm sure it's just been…a very long day. A very busy long day." She continued silently working with the dress laid out on her mannequin as if she didn't have much else to defend herself with.

"There's something that's been on my mind since our last talk here, Rarity. Who's in charge? Sassy Saddles or you?"

"Why me, of course." She chuckled lightly as if she found my question too silly to have been asked in the first place.

"I don't know…because to me, it seems she's telling you how to run this place, if not running it herself."

Rarity stopped her work and sighed heavily.

"I understand where you're getting at, darling, but trust me, she's doing what she can to make sure this business is successful here in Canterlot. I'm sure you know that the way things are done here are not the same as Ponyville. Ponies have a higher…expectation on what they find here, and Sassy Saddles knows exactly how to draw in a crowd and keep them drawn in. She's the reason why there was such a large crowd out those front doors this morning. And she's the reason why she was able to obtain such a large order of dresses on the first day. What I'm trying to say is…there's a reason I hired her. She has so much experience in working at other boutiques. It's just I'm not affiliated completely with how work is done here in Canterlot, and this day is just another part of the process of learning it." She paused to look out at the currently empty main lobby of the store. "I'm fine with her working out there. I want to stay here and work on the dresses because they're my designs. I suppose the problem here is that I wasn't expecting one hundred orders of the same exact dress. No modifications whatsoever."

"It's because ponies saw Twilight wearing that exact dress, right?" I added in. "It's just like the ponies in Canterlot… They follow whatever's the latest trend. They don't want something that is similar, or looks almost like it. They want the exact thing. And since ponies that live here are usually already wealthy, I would think that they're already sort of entitled to nothing less."

"Well…when you put it that way, it sounds a little…disheartening."

"Sorry, I didn't mean it to…" I apologized.

Rarity sighed once more before she continued to finish up yet another dress.

"I don't know, Alex. As of right now, I'm trying my best just to finish my work, and hopefully I might become more accustomed to Canterlot's business nature. Hopefully, I can soon feel the magic, per se, flow through me once again."

The bell above the door swung side to side all of a sudden. The sound of its ringing kept us from making conversation any longer, as we focused on who had just entered the store.

"I'm back, Rarity!" Sassy Saddles had announced, returning from her lunch run. She made her way into the room Rarity and I were in, taking subtle notice of my presence near her. "Hello, Prince." She slightly bowed in respect and then turned to Rarity. "How's the work coming along?"

"It's coming along well." She answered in a way that made me feel as if she was forcing herself to sound positive. "I've just finished this one. It's only a matter of time when all of the orders will be finished. After all, since every single dress is the same, I only need to really focus on putting every piece together…"

"Fantastic, Rarity." Sassy Saddles congratulated, seeming to ignore the hints which Rarity had dropped that revealed her dissatisfaction. "Why don't you take a break and eat?" She presented the meal she picked up for her. "I'll handle any more customers that may come in." She turned and left the room, returning towards the counter.

"I guess I'll leave you to it." I decided that I would leave, especially since Sassy Saddles returned, and I wouldn't want her getting frustrated that I was bothering Rarity or something.

"No, please. Stay." She sounded almost as if was on the border of pleading. "I could use some company while I eat…"

Figuring that staying around while she was on her break couldn't hurt, I agreed. "Oh, okay."

She cleared the counter holding paperwork momentarily, so she could have space to put her plate. As she set it down, she revealed what was inside. What she was served was so…tiny. Canterlot food. Of course.

"Come sit by me." She offered the spot right by her side. Asking no questions, I obliged. "Have you eaten anything at all today? Would you like some?" She then offered me her plate.

Seeing how small the portion of food was, I was afraid it'd hardly be enough for Rarity in the first place. "No, I'm fine. Thanks."

She picked up her utensils with her magic and didn't start eating right away. She made a small cut into the already small portion of food as if to take a bite, but then she just sort of stared at it. Seeing her do this began to really worry me.

"Rarity?" I asked.

"Oh, what do I do…?" She responded. Even though I wanted to know what she meant, I didn't answer her right away. Instead, I held my tongue to see if she would say anything more. "Should I just…give up? This isn't how I wanted it."

"You can't give up…" I told her. "You finally achieved your dream of having your line of fashion here in Canterlot. I can't tell you how to fix this, but I know you can't just give up."

"But why am I not enjoying this like I used to, Alex?" She turned her eyes away from her food to meet mine with them. "Ohh. I was so full of life in Ponyville. But here, the thought of how many more orders of dresses I need to do makes me want to cry in bed as I eat an entire gallon of ice cream. I don't understand. Am I losing my magic touch?"

"It's because you're making the same thing over and over, isn't it?" I asked yet answered at the same time. "The first time is great. The next few times are okay. And then after that, every other time just feels boring and…bland."

"But that's what they all want…" She turned back to her food with sorrowful eyes, referring to her customers.

Even I began to feel stressed at this point. I wanted to give her the answers she desperately wanted, but saying to follow her heart just wouldn't cut it. I had no experience or knowledge of the business world, so there were no detailed guides or steps I had to offer. I could only listen at this point.

Without even taking a bite, she placed her utensil down on her plate, stood up, and turned around to move the completed dress onto a hanger and start anew. "I should get back to work."

"But you didn't eat anything." I mentioned worriedly.

"I'll eat it later." She replied.

She really needed to know someone was there for her. Seeing how unenthusiastically she worked showed me how lonely she must have felt.

"Rarity." I called her softly. She turned her head around. It was then when I slowly approached her and then began to warmly embrace her. "…hang in there, okay?"

She didn't answer. She felt still for a moment before she seemed to relax her head on my shoulder. It was a silent but reassuring moment when she slightly brushed herself against me as if I was snuggly winterwear that gave her pleasuring warmth from the cold.

"Thank you, dear." She expressed before I decided to leave her back to work.

I spent the rest of the day trying to come up with something that would cheer Rarity up, or at the very least bring some inspiration and motivation to her work. In the end, I decided on setting up Rarity with a spa appointment in Canterlot at a time that seemed the most convenient, which was after hours during the evening. Even though it was possible that she may work after store hours, it was something I felt I needed to take the chance on.

I came back to the store pretty late during the night. As expected, it was dark inside. At that point, I realized that the doors may have been locked, and I wouldn't have a key to get inside. I gave it a little pull before I began thinking of ways I could possibly get Rarity's attention, and to my surprise, it was open. It was a bit of relief but worry at the same time.

Did Rarity forget to lock up? Or is she actually still awake?

I walked in and locked it behind me. It was inside that I noticed a light coming from the room Rarity had been last working in. I stopped by that room to find an unfinished dress on the mannequin with a pony exhaustedly holding on to it for support.

Rarity had obviously fell asleep in the middle of her work, and it was a safe assumption that she had been working endlessly to get through her orders. Leaning my sight to her side, I noticed the same plate of lunch she had received earlier left untouched.

I sighed and shook my head. She hadn't even spared a moment to eat something.

I decided away to put away the untouched food and tend to the worn out and overdriven pony. I brought her up the stairs and searched quickly until I found what must have been her room. Even the bed appeared to be untouched, as it was recently furnished in. I delicately placed Rarity on her bed, removed her dress-making glasses, and softly spread out the covers over her.

I then began to worry about her, her business, and her passion for fashion. I wondered if things would get better after she finished her hundred orders, but at the same time, Sassy Saddles seems to be the one running things around here. And the reason for that was that she had experienced here in Canterlot… But isn't the whole point why Rarity wanted a boutique in Canterlot was so that she could express herself? If she's going to be making the same dress that seems to be the only thing that everyone here wants, then…

I sighed and massaged my temples, seeing that I might need some spa time myself after stressing over the predicament revolving around Rarity.

I want to help her. I really do. But I'm no super pony. I don't have the answers to everything if anything…

In the morning, I found that I seemed to have been magically teleported to the bed with the covers on me instead. I looked around me, as I fully came to my senses, and I couldn't spot Rarity anywhere in the room. It was as if I had traded places with her, but the actual reality must have been that she woke up and returned the favor before leaving to work.

I could only imagine that Rarity woke up far too soon before she could have a complete night's rest and returned straight to work. I left the room and proceeded to look for Rarity in her working room to see if my concerns were justified, but I heard an unexpected shaky commotion instead.

"This is not your boutique!" I heard Rarity exclaim out of pure frustration. "And if this is what success in Canterlot looks like, I want no part of it! Now, make up flyers for a going-out-of-business sale! I'm closing Canterlot Carousel!"

Near the doorway, Rarity stormed out, and in an anxious panic, Sassy Saddles followed after. "What?! No! Oh, you can't, Rarity! I-I've worked too hard to make this a success! I can't be a part of another failed boutique!"

Despite her plea, Rarity ignored her coldly, removing all the dresses she had grown so tired of and surprisingly kept her word with a set of completely new gowns. Each of them were different from the other.

"Oh, don't you look lovely? Nice to see you out here again." She warmly greeted one of the last dresses she hung up on display.

"Rarity? What's going on? You're closing the shop?" I asked, almost as panicked as Sassy Saddles was.

"Don't fret, darling." Rarity tried to reassure me. "I know this looks bad, but I believe it is for the best. Having a boutique of my very own in Canterlot may have been one of my biggest dreams, but I realize now that doing what I love, and with my very best friends nonetheless, is what's most important. And I won't let some big-named city take that away from me." Before she went for the door, she returned a soft glare up the stairs where Sassy Saddles had been while we were talking. As soon as they made eye contact, Sassy Saddles quickly looked away in both gloom and shame. "Seems Sassy Saddles isn't rushing to open the door this time. Hm." She turned her attention to the door and faced the crowd of ponies that had already been waiting for some time now. "Welcome to the going-out-of-business sale of Canterlot Carousel." She welcomed with a sort of disheartened yet calm voice.

However, the mass of ponies rushed in excitedly, seeming to pay no attention to the words in Rarity's announcement other than the fact that there was a sale on the currently displayed dresses.

I simply watched as other ponies seemed to have grown fascinated with the dresses Rarity had already placed up for show. It made me wonder if they had not heard or seen the previous famous dress of Canterlot to not ask Rarity about its whereabouts. In other words, it looked as if they were possibly newcomers or simply ponies that were not that taken to the "Princess Dress".

It made much more sense to see ponies of different personalities find the dress that especially went with said personalities. For instance, a mare, with a sort of deadpan tone like Maud's, went with the dress inspired by Princess Luna. Another mare, not as hyper as Pinkie Pie but possibly more on the level of Spirit, chose the dress inspired by Princess Celestia.

Rarity catered to their needs, and by observing her, I could see the spark of her passion ignite within her once again. The signs of her restlessness seemed to have disappeared, and she was no longer reluctant.

Rarity was right. This may have previously been her dream, but whatever keeps her passion afloat and alive is what's most important. Do what keeps you happy and your passion strong, even if it might not cater to everyone's needs.

"How can I have forgotten? This is what I've been dreaming about!" Rarity soon realized, accommodating what she had been striving for all along.

"My favorite moment's when a pony sees it

That special gown that she just adores

That pony's now in style

My hard work's all worthwhile

Oh, yes, it makes my heart

My heart just soar!"

It pleased me to hear her sing after having seen her in one of the deepest states of depression I had ever seen. After all, even if she were to close the shop for good, all I would really care about is her happiness. I have no intention whatsoever of skewing her wants to fit mine.

"Attention, everypony! Canterlot Carousel will not be closing!" She announced.

Hearing this, I wasn't necessarily surprised. I would support her in whatever manner she chose.

"But this stuff's still on sale, right?" The customer wearing the dress of night asked flatly, even after the cheer of everyone else had filled the room.

With a brief but jubilant giggle, Rarity responded. "Yes, yes, of course."

Sassy Saddles then joined her at the bottom of the stairs. "Oh, Rarity, I'm so sorry. I focused on that one dress, and the rest of Rarity's Royal Regalia paid the price."

"Well, so did the Princess Dress." Rarity empathetically approached her misguided friend. "The more I sold, the more each dress lost its time, love, and couture, becoming terrible, lackluster, and common."

"I think I finally understand the Rules of Rarity... and will apply them at my next job." She made way for the door, bringing along her packed things.

"I beg your pardon?" Rarity immediately intervened. "The Rules of Rarity are only to be applied at Canterlot Carousel! Which is why you must continue to manage the boutique while I'm in Ponyville."

"Ponyville?" Sassy Saddles questioned after she had stopped in her tracks.

"Well, yes, I'll come to Canterlot with new designs and to see the customers of course, but Ponyville was always going to be my home base." Rarity confirmed, honestly stretching a smile on my face.

"Bobbins and bodkins, Rarity! Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!" She ecstatically shook Rarity back in forth, raising a swearing hoof after. "And I promise to run everything following your rules."

"I would expect nothing less." Rarity responded, their quarrels coming to an end with an embrace.

"Oh, my gosh, a sale! Do you have the Princess Dress?!" The largest pony I had ever seen in my life, significantly surpassing both the size and stature of even the rulers of Equestria, walked in excitedly.

"No!" Both Sassy Saddles and Rarity replied in unison and followed with a heartily laugh, leaving the pony with the question to simply shrug and browse at her leisure.

"And…this is the solution." I concluded.

I waited until the end of the business day to speak with Rarity for obvious reasons. I found her in her workroom, but she wasn't slaving over the same dress this time. Instead, she was rather looking through the trash, pulling out something peculiar.

"A dress?" I asked, seeing parts of fabrics and clothes appear by Rarity.

"Yes." Rarity returned, brushing it off a bit and then resting it nearby. "One of the old dresses I tried to modify for the sake of it being unique. However, the one of hundred ponies that made the order denied this change, so I simply threw it away."

"It's really nice." I complimented. "…I think you should give it to Twilight, after you clean it up a bit of course."

Surprised to hear my unexpected suggestion, she turned to me. "Why's that?"

"You tried to make something different out of the other hundred dresses you had to make. And Twilight was the pony who made this dress popular in the first place. I guess what I'm trying to say is that, this dress would sort of be a good symbol for her. This is the only dress you made the change to, right? Then, it would be unique for her, and she'd be the only pony wearing an 'evolved' Princess Dress. She'd also be the pony wearing the dress that was inspired by the exact same pony that's wearing said dress." I shook my head before I could continue any further. "Gah, my words are like riddles and mazes now. I hope you get what I mean."

Rarity giggled. "Yes, yes. I get the message. I'll consider it, but as of right now, I believe I'll allow myself some time before I lay hoof on this dress again."

"Gotcha." I understood, seeing as Rarity must have been ironically sick and tired of the dress which stemmed from her very own designs.

She gave a little stretch and a sigh. "I could really use some rest and relaxation."

"Oh!" I suddenly remembered about what I had wanted to speak with her in the first place. "I wasn't expecting for things to get better so soon, but I'm glad they did. I was hoping you'd be free around this time since I had set up an appointment for you here in Canterlot."

"Y-you did?" She inquired in shock.

At the spa's lobby, she turned her question into a statement as she stared at the package listed for her enjoyment. "You did!"

"I didn't know what you usually got back in Ponyville, so…I kind of got you everything." I rubbed the back of my head a little embarrassingly.

"I don't know what to say." She expressed as she looked away from the clipboard detailing her deluxe package.

"You don't need to say anything." I assured. "The whole reason I did this was because you deserved it. I wanted you to go to bed as relaxed as you could be, but since that fiasco with the dresses is now over, I'm happy that you'll be calm as beauty."

She smiled tenderly at me for a moment before pulling me in for a strong embrace. It was just like after I had given her the flowers for her grand opening, but this one felt much more warm and touching. "You are the best friend I could ever have." She pulled back slightly so should could meet my eyes with hers. "Not only can I look forward to an evening of relaxation, but I get to spend it with said pony as well."

As soon as I got what she meant by that last statement, I grew somewhat confused.

"Huh? Oh no. I'm fine. This was entirely meant for you." I explained.

Rarity pulled away, feigning disappointment. "It's not proper for a gentlecolt to leave a lady all by her lonesome."

I sighed in surrender.

It wasn't a bad thing, really.

I don't remember the last time Rarity and I bathed together in the spa at Ponyville, but I had to genuinely admit it was pleasant.

Rarity gave me a recap on the events I had missed at the Canterlot Boutique. She explained in further detail about the modified dress she tried to give to one of her customers, along with other hardships she'd rather not keep in mind after her time in the spa.

"I know I already said this…but I don't know how to thank you for everything you've done." Rarity said.

"You've done enough." I answered. "All I want for you is to be happy, and seeing that you are, it makes me feel just the same." I paused for a moment when I thought about Rarity feeling in debt to me. "If anything, I'm the one who feels like I haven't done enough for you…"

Rarity caught hold of my worries quickly. "Why, whatever do you mean?"

I didn't want to bring it up, but with Rarity being my friend, I wanted to spill my feelings, just as she would to me. "I know how you feel about me, Rarity. How you 'admire' me. But I also know that I can't return the same feelings, and it bothers me that I can't feel the possible pain you do. The closest I could is imagining Fluttershy falling for someone else other than me, and that hurts a lot just thinking about it. I wish I could somehow give you the satisfaction you need, but…I just can't."

There was a moment of silence before Rarity answered. "But you can, darling…and you are." I turned to her to see what she could possibly mean by that, seeing as I didn't since I wasn't romantically involved with her. "I must admit, being beloved in the way Fluttershy is with you would be an absolute dream, but I'm happy, Alex. I am more than satisfied with just being your friend. You may not return a love of amorousness, but you still love me nonetheless. It is through little things just like this." She gave the spa appointment as an example. "Or the flowers you had given me. I couldn't ask for any more of that, otherwise I'd believe I'd be selfish." She momentarily held my cheek with her hoof. "You've got your sights on another pony, and I completely understand. I'm just extremely grateful that you can still love your friends in a platonic manner as well. In a way, that fills that hole you must speak of which worries you, so please, do not be worried for my sake."

I smiled and chuckled under my breath. "I guess I needed to hear that. Thanks, Rarity. You're right, and I'm willing to practically go through anything to see every one of you smile."

"Good!" She retracted her hoof and closed her eyes in a triumphal manner. "You may begin by brushing my mane for a thousand strokes." She held up a luxurious brush.

"Hah. Good one." I stated with a small chuckle.

"What do you mean?" She looked at me as if she was seriously waiting for me to start brushing her hair. I couldn't tell if she was actually serious or not.

With a sigh of defeat, I agreed. "Okay." I began, mentally counting each sweep down in my head.

Despite her giving me a playful kind of look that seemed to tell me I didn't actually have to do it a thousand times, I continued.

After all, with the kind of intent care Rarity has for her hair, I felt pretty honored that she trusted me to tend to it for the time being. I never thought I'd partake in Rarity's beauty care, but I guess it's just her way of showing how much faith and trust she has in me.

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